This column is part of a series formed from a partnership between Entrepreneur and NFL Players Inc. Click here to see the other columns.
To help you get your head in the game this year, start fresh with some coaching advice from the NFL. Coaches have shared some great sayings with me over the years. Their sayings -- there seem to be millions --apply to football and business practices as well.
Here are four popular football clichés to help you win.
1. Low man always wins!
Football is all about leverage. Everyone on the field is battling for leverage to put themselves in a position to win. But if both players are fighting for leverage, how does someone obtain it? Three things need to happen for you to gain leverage.
First, you need to do your homework; study your opponent to understand their tendencies and weaknesses. Second, you can’t hesitate. He who hesitates loses! Confidence in your decisions prevents hesitation. Confidence on the field is developed through practice, film studies, and weight training. Third, you can’t be afraid to get dirty. Fear will get you hurt on a football field and in business.
Leverage is vital to success in the business world, too. Companies and employees are all jockeying and negotiating for the right deal. Putting your company in a position to succeed both today and tomorrow comes from solid leverage. Opportunities come and go in the world of business. If you hesitate, you will miss your opportunity for a win. It’s crucial to do your homework, understand the points of weakness, gain confidence through training and roll up your sleeves to do the dirty work. Leverage always gives you the chance to win against your competitors.
2. To be the best, you have to beat the best!
Every year a coach will tell his team that if they expect to be the champs that year, they need to beat the team that won the championship the previous year. That is why it is so challenging to stay on top after winning a championship. Everyone is gunning for you. In the business world, everyone is measuring themselves against the industry’s best. But the key to beating the best is not losing your core identity to do so. Some teams and companies try to emulate what the champ is doing. This is a mistake. Instead, trust in your skills, resources and teammates to do what is needed to win. Each team and company is unique with its own strengths and weaknesses.
3. Finish strong!
One of the hardest things to do in sports, and life, is finish. At the beginning of the game, every player is filled with energy and fueled with optimism. They can’t wait to unleash havoc on their opponent. If you ever have the chance to stand in the tunnel before an NFL team runs out on to the field, do it. The enthusiasm and intensity in that space gives me goose bumps.
But what happens in the fourth quarter? You are hurting, exhausted, emotionally drained and mentally fried. This is when you have to think about finishing strong. It’s all about mental toughness at that point. It’s the will of the mind that allows you to keep going and push your body past physical limits.
Succumbing to physical discomfort in the last quarter can be the difference between winning and losing in football. Think about it, how many times have you left the office and there was still an email you should have sent, a file you should have read or numbers you should have crunched? Finishing strong is a habit that has to be applied every day. You finish one day strong, then the next, then the month, then the year. We can all start our days with energy and intensity but winners finish their days stronger than when they began.
4. Games are won in the trenches!
If you talk to any football coach at any level, they will all say the same thing. Games are won and lost in the trenches. This battleground on the football field is called the line of scrimmage. The big guys, the offensive and defensive linemen, occupy the trenches and battle over it every play. Offensive linemen are preventing them from penetrating the line of scrimmage and defensive linemen are doing everything they can to breach the line of scrimmage and attack the ball carrier. These players get little glory and are rarely talked about in the media, but they are vital to the team’s success. That is where the real work is taking place on the gridiron.
There are so many people within a company that do the heavy lifting and are battling it out in the trenches. Make sure that these folks are recognized and praised for their efforts. No matter what your status is in a company, it always feels good to be thanked. When you create an environment where everyone feels respected and appreciated you have an environment conducive to winning. Great teams and great companies understand that it is the collection of the whole that leads to championships!